Author Topic: Last weekend at Tioman  (Read 8040 times)

Alvin Ho

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Last weekend at Tioman
« on: 12 Sep 13, 23:49 »
Was up diving at Tioman and experienced something quite incredible (in my mind) that i had to share it here. No names but the incidents were real enough.

My group was sharing a boat for transfer as well as diving with another group. For a starter the boat was supposed to depart Mersing at midnight but the other group was late by almost an hour and so got got comfy and went to sleep while waiting.

Not such a good start but not unusual for groups to be late due to traffic hold ups.

On Saturday morning the dive leaders from both companies discussed the departure time on Sunday due to tide issues. The initial plan was late departure, arriving at Mersing at 8pm. I was not looking forward to that but was glad when the other group suggested we leave early instead, departing Tioman at 10am and reach Mersing by 1pm. Plans set, transport companies informed, we went diving.

As most of the divers on the trip on both sides were OW students, it was agreed we do the training dives at the jetty area to allow sufficient time for the training dives to be completed. I was pre-warned that the other group was rather slow in terms of timing and i experienced first hand how come on the first dive.

Being a photographer, i like to be the first to gear up and be in water to max my dive time. So off i went while the group i was with prepared for their OW training dives. As i was gearing up i couldn't help but to overhear the other group's instructors telling the students how to set up their scuba gear on the tanks. In my mind question marks started forming. Wasn't that supposed to be taught during pool sessions??

Minding my own business i went for my dive. 70 min later i surfaced, surprised to see the other group still dispatching their OW divers into the water. As i waited on the surface for all their divers to get into the water, couple of incidents happened. Of the OW students in the water, some have moved towards the shallow part of the jetty. One of these students apparently dropped his/her mask and the instructor couldn't find it. Funny to me as it was a sandy bottom jetty and vis was ok and depth was less than 10m at their position. At the same time, a diver who just entered the water had her fin drop out. The instructor on board dispatching looked a bit overwhelmed at this time. Not wanting to waste more time at the surface waiting, i did a quick dive down to about 7m, retrieved the fin and surfaced so that i could get back on the boat faster. Not a good impression in my mind. Further incidents were to happen....

3rd dive of the day at an offshore island nearby with a sloping reef. Halfway through the dive i see a diver from the other group waving at me excitedly. I had noticed they had finned past me some time ago. Quite sure the diver had lost the group and his/her buddy. I told the diver she could follow me. I checked her guage air looked ok so i continued the dive following the current. Another couple of minutes later we caught up with her group and i waved bye bye and continued my dive, shaking my head wondering if the leaders/buddy noticed the missing diver and were doing a search.....

Next morning.... As it was early departure from island, it was agreed one dive only and meet at jetty at 6.45am. As it was raining i decided to sleep in while the rest of my group went for the dive. After the dive i was told the other group's dive leaders didn't turn up at the jetty while some of the divers did. My group waited till 7.30 before heading off for their dive. Assuming that the other group had finished all their training dives, our group gave no further thought and went for breakfast and packed up to leave Tioman.

At 9.30 as i was walking to the jetty with my gear in tow to load onto the dive boat, i walked by one of the other group's dive leader. Recognizing me, he doubled back and asked me.... 'by the way do you know we are now leaving late from the island? Cos some of the guests complained that they missed the morning dive' ?????????????????????????????? Very shocked now, I told him you better check with my dive group leaders as everything was already arranged transport wise to leave island at 10am and reach mersing by 1pm due to the tides. How can you inform us at 9.30am when we are all due to leave island at 10am???

Reaching the dive boat i see the other dive leaders plus their divers sitting around the boat. Another dive leader asks me if i know of the change in plans. I told them the plans can't be changed unilaterally like that last min as arrangements have already been made. Dumping my gear on board, i went to sit at the jetty while waiting for the situation to be resolved.

There was a lot of to-and-fro when my dive leader arrived, trying to resolve the situation with the boat captain while the other group's leaders sat around like lost lambs. Later on i found out more about the other group's situation.

Apparently they had not completed 2 of their training dives. The dive leaders woke on sunday morning, saw that it was raining and thought the dive would be cancelled. And making the decision to go back late on sunday, they 'forgot' they were sharing boat with my group.

It was rather incredulous that the other group had 2 more training dives and knowing that sunday was scheduled for one dive and didn't do any forward planning to resolve the issue by informing our group early that they needed to leave late to complete the dives. Then didn't check with our group on sunday morning when it was raining if the dive was going ahead. Neither did they inform their divers. Lastly how could they 'forget' they were sharing boat with our group? we went to tioman on the same boat, we dived off the same boat etc....

In the end the boat captain made arrangements for our group to share boat with another group who was going back at the same timing. We transferred boat and in our minds wished them best of luck while reminding them to call and re-arrange their transport back from mersing to singapore.

It is shocking to me how badly organized this group was. How passive the dive leaders were. There didn't seem to be one senior person to make decisions or take action to resolve problems. Even their dive briefings seem like a briefing by committee as one dive leader will interject if something came to mind. I hope this company really takes a good look at their processes and improve.  ::)
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kimzzz

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Re: Last weekend at Tioman
« Reply #1 on: 13 Sep 13, 00:31 »
Wah.. Will be great to have some hint on which dive shop you follow so others could prevent having such big whoo ha during their trip..

Cool79

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Last weekend at Tioman
« Reply #2 on: 13 Sep 13, 03:05 »
Which resort is it?

lybc

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Re: Last weekend at Tioman
« Reply #3 on: 13 Sep 13, 08:25 »
Looks like a very bad case of inexperienced dive leaders to me. Well, we all learn through mistakes. Give and take bah. At least no lives were lost, although I have to admit the inconvenience caused downstream is like "wow".

How many OW students were there? What was the staff-student ration? 70 mins seemed kinda "wow".

One of the reasons why I always like to know who's sharing the boat with me.  Being a dive leader, I would like to know their schedule so we can coordinate accordingly, allowing all parties to enjoy the whole experience without having to go through any uncalculated hiccups. Sad to say, some dive leaders like to act as if they are "atas" and refused to communicate.

poh6702

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Re: Last weekend at Tioman
« Reply #4 on: 13 Sep 13, 08:51 »
Looks like a very bad case of inexperienced dive leaders to me. Well, we all learn through mistakes. Give and take bah. At least no lives were lost, although I have to admit the inconvenience caused downstream is like "wow".

How many OW students were there? What was the staff-student ration? 70 mins seemed kinda "wow".

One of the reasons why I always like to know who's sharing the boat with me.  Being a dive leader, I would like to know their schedule so we can coordinate accordingly, allowing all parties to enjoy the whole experience without having to go through any uncalculated hiccups. Sad to say, some dive leaders like to act as if they are "atas" and refused to communicate.
Inexperience??  If no one chellenge or point out the mistake, will he/she ever learn? That will be another accident waiting to happen.

The most unforgiving mistake in my opinion is that they lost one diver (especially untrained diver) without notice, did the instructor teach buddy system and practicing it? What about lost buddy drill? 

Secondly, I remember duirng my PADI OWC, the first 3 dives were all static practicing and testing all necessary skills like bouyancy control, clearing of mask, CESA, budy share air, buddy breathing, regulator second stage got knock off with the 2 methods of recovering the regulator, and on water surface, practice taking out and putting on weght belt, BCD, how to push and tow the other diver, there were so many basic skills to be tested and ensure trainee are proficent, then only swimming around on the forth dive, I am surprice that they were doing swimming around already within the first 3 dives? Did the instructor short cut all the skill tests?

antacid

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Re: Last weekend at Tioman
« Reply #5 on: 13 Sep 13, 08:55 »
maybe the usual big boss wasn't there to lead the group that weekend?

but yeah, sounds like a nightmare to share any trip logistics with them. sounds like an incident waiting to happen.

poh6702

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Re: Last weekend at Tioman
« Reply #6 on: 13 Sep 13, 09:03 »
maybe the usual big boss wasn't there to lead the group that weekend?

but yeah, sounds like a nightmare to share any trip logistics with them. sounds like an incident waiting to happen.

Accident might not happen during that trip, but if the students are not properly "Qualified"? Accident might happen sometimes later....

BareBear

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Re: Last weekend at Tioman
« Reply #7 on: 13 Sep 13, 09:17 »
Haha I was there as well and witnessed a few incidents!

Our boat picked up a very pissed off diver, I think her dive boat had left her in the water! Our captain managed to locate her dive boat and dropped her off safely.

Second we encountered a very scared and lost diver underwater. His face was all white, probably close to panic. He was wearing rental gear and had a snorkel on so I guess he's probably on OW course or is a very new diver. Our guide checked his air and signalled him to buddy with her and dive with us (which on hindsight isn't such a good idea because his buddy would have surfaced and be in panic if he can't find this lost diver).

As we swam on we bumped into their group, but it seemed they had no idea he was missing. They were happily looking at some fish and corals, instead of searching for this lost guy.

Lastly, my buddy & I surfaced at Labas on Sat afternoon. We heard someone shouting frantically and so we looked. We saw a lone diver and he was quite far away from us, but I think his dive boat had not picked him up. He sounded quite alarmed. He was alone, no buddy beside him, which is strange. Did he get lost also? We couldn't see his dive boat from our location because it was blocked by the big rocky formation. So my buddy hit her dive alert and blasted it repeatedly at regular intervals till we saw a boat come pick him up, before we swam for our own dive boat.

Alvin Ho

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Re: Last weekend at Tioman
« Reply #8 on: 13 Sep 13, 09:25 »
Wah.. Will be great to have some hint on which dive shop you follow so others could prevent having such big whoo ha during their trip..

Nah. This is my version of events so we don't know the situation with the other DC. Not fair to them.
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Alvin Ho

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Re: Last weekend at Tioman
« Reply #9 on: 13 Sep 13, 09:35 »
Looks like a very bad case of inexperienced dive leaders to me. Well, we all learn through mistakes. Give and take bah. At least no lives were lost, although I have to admit the inconvenience caused downstream is like "wow".

How many OW students were there? What was the staff-student ration? 70 mins seemed kinda "wow".

One of the reasons why I always like to know who's sharing the boat with me.  Being a dive leader, I would like to know their schedule so we can coordinate accordingly, allowing all parties to enjoy the whole experience without having to go through any uncalculated hiccups. Sad to say, some dive leaders like to act as if they are "atas" and refused to communicate.

I think total group size was 22 with 4 dive leaders. All were students i think, at most 2-4 leisure divers.

I thought communication was good enough. As our group was smaller but had more experienced dive leaders, our group leader asked theirs how many dives they wanted to do and advised the timing needed accordingly. All timings were agreed to by both sides. Our dive leader even helped call their transport operator on sat initially to change the timing at mersing to an earlier timing.
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Inon Z-240 Strobes, Weefine Video lights, FIT Focus lights